On Day 1 of the Tokyo Paralympics, 24 gold medals were on offer across Swimming, Track Cycling and Wheelchair Fencing. There was plenty of preliminary action too, as the team sports got underway.
Australia took the first gold of the Games in the early afternoon on Day 1, with Paige Greco smashing two World Records on her way to becoming the Paralympic champion in the Women’s C1-3 3000m Individual Pursuit.
Earlier, in qualifying, Xiaomei Wang of China set a new World Record of 3:55.781, but Greco immediately bettered this, to qualify first with a time of 3:52.283. Her time was almost eight seconds faster than her previous World Record set in March 2019.
Greco went on to improve by another two seconds, taking Gold with a time of 3:50.815.
Wang also beat her qualifying time to take Silver, while Denise Schindler of Germany finished with Bronze.
Petricola peddles to the podium
Less than 15 minutes later, Australia secured its second gold medal at the Izu Velodrome with Emily Petricola taking out the Women’s C4 3000m Individual Pursuit.
Petricola overtook the United States’ Shawn Morelli for the victory, in a fast and dominant race by the Australian.
During the morning’s qualifying, Petricola raced a World Record time of 3:38.063, beating her own record from February 2020 by more than six seconds.
In the bronze medal race, Canadian Keely Shaw beat Australia’s Meg Lemon.
There were two other gold medals on offer at the velodrome on Day 1. In the Women’s C5 3000m Individual Pursuit, after setting a new World Record of 3:27.057 in qualifying, Great Britain’s Sarah Dame Storey overlapped her compatriot Crystal Lane-Wright to take Gold. Marie Patouillet of France won bronze.
The final race at Izu Velodrome was the Men’s B 4000m Individual Pursuit, which was won by Tristan Bangma and Patrick Bos for the Netherlands. They stormed home to overlap and defeat Great Britain’s Stephen Bate and Adam Duggelby, while Poland’s Marcin Polak and Michal Ladosz won Bronze.
Victory stolen from Steelers
Wheelchair Rugby action got underway at Yoyogi National Stadium with the United States beating New Zealand, 63-35.
Australia was up next against Paralympic debutants Denmark. The number one team was not able to get its title defence underway in the fashion it had hoped, going down in a one-goal loss, 53-54.
The whole match was a tight contest, going goal for goal as both teams held possession well. It was all square at the end of the first period before Australia pushed on for a two-goal lead heading into the main break.
Australian Paralympic co-captain and flag bearer Ryley Batt scored 24 goals, while Chris Bond scored 17, but it was not enough to beat Denmark who pushed hard in the second half for victory.
Great Britain had a tight battle with Canada and came away with a three-goal win in its first pool game, while Japan and France capped off the evening with a third close contest. Japan edged out France by two goals, 53-51.
Gliders lack speed against Japan
The Gliders opened their Women’s Wheelchair Basketball campaign with a loss to host country Japan.
In a competitive opening quarter, Australia was just two points behind Japan at the first break. However, the speed of Japan was unable to be matched in the second quarter and it started to pull away to a six-point lead.
After the main break, Japan was far too good for Australia, dominating the court for a comprehensive victory 73-47.
The Gliders will look to regroup before its next pool game on Thursday morning.
In the other Group A match, Canada had a similar win against Great Britain 73-54. A dominant second half from Canada got it across the line, after trailing 26-29 at the main break.
China absolutely annihilated Algeria 74-25 in its Group B match, while the Netherlands had a 10 point win against the United States.
Bells not yet in Tokyo tune
In Australia’s opening Women’s Goalball pool game against Israel, it went down 11 goals to one by mercy rule.
The Aussie Bells were unable to get any regular shots past Israel’s line-up, but Meica Jayne Horsburgh scored from a penalty shot in the first half for Australia’s only goal.
Russian Paralympic Committee and Canada also played in the other Women’s Group C match. RPC won 5-1 in a strong opening to its campaign.
Turkey beat host nation Japan 7-1, while Brazil and the United States
In the Men’s Group A, Japan had more success with a win against Algeria 13-4, while Brazil dominated against Lithuania 11-2. While Germany had a tight contest with Turkey for a 6-4 victory in Group B.
China shows its strength in Table Tennis
It was a busy day at the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium, as the Table Tennis got underway with preliminary matches for Men’s and Women’s Singles.
Chinese athletes played in 31 different singles matches today across the classes and won 29 of them. They only dropped two games, including one to Australian Yang Qian.
Yang Qian beat Chinese competitor Zhao Xiaojing 3-2 in Class 10. After taking the opening set 15-13, the Australian lost the next two sets before dominating the final two sets 11-9 and 11-3 for a thrilling win.
In the Class 9, Australia’s Li Na Lei won her first match against Jennifer Marques Parinos of Brazil 3-0. Lin Ma also won her first match 3-0.
Lei continued her successful start to Day 1 with a win against Carolina Pek of Poland, 3-1.
Australian flag bearer Daniela di Toro lost her first match in Class 4 to German opponent Sandra Mikolaschek.
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China sweep Wheelchair Fencing
There were four gold medals up for grabs on Day 1 at Makuhari Messe Hall in the Men’s and Women’s Individual Wheelchair Fencing. All four were won by China.
Li Hao won the Men’s Sabre Individual Category A gold medal in a 15-12 victory against Artem Manko of Ukraine. China also won Bronze, with Tian Jianquan taking a 15-14 win against Ukraine’s Andril Demchuk.
This was followed by Feng Yanke’s win in the Category B gold medal bout against Poland’s Adrian Castro. Bronze was secured earlier in the evening by Panagiotis Triantafyllou of Greece.
The Women’s Sabre Individual was up next. In Category A, Bian Jing won Gold against Georgia’s Nino Tibilashvili, while Yevheniia Breus of Ukraine won the bronze bout.
Finally, Tan Shumei finished the clean sweep for China on Day 1, with a strong win over Ukraine’s Olena Fedota. Earlier, China secured another bronze medal with Xiao Rong finishing strong in a 15-6 victory over Irma Khetsuriani of Georgia.
Australia rules the pool
It was an incredibly successful morning in the pool for Australia, as athletes qualified in exciting fashion for the Night 1 finals.
The success of the Olympic Games continued with the para-swimmers hitting the water and immediately securing gold medals for Australia. There were 16 gold medals on offer on Night 1 and Australia secured a quarter of these.
Martin Will’s his way to Gold
Olympic debutant Will Martin won gold and set a new Paralympic Record with a 4:10.25 400m Freestyle in the S9 category.
He was the fastest off the blocks and stayed in front for the duration of the swim, coming home strong to stay ahead of France’s Ugo Didier who finished in Silver.
Martin was not the only Australian on the podium, as he was joined by teammate Alex Tuckfield who took the bronze ahead of another Australian, and London Paralympic Record holder, Brenden Hall.
Perfect finish for Patterson
Within 10 minutes of Martin’s gold medal, Australia continued its gold rush on Day 1 of the Paralympics as Lakeisha Patterson claimed the Women’s 400m Freestyle S9.
In the morning’s qualifying, Patterson swam a slower time than fellow Dolphin Ellie Cole. However, in the main event, it was all about Patterson.
She led early on and held off her opponents right to the very end. Hungary’s Zsofia Konkoly was closing in on her, but the Australian managed to touch the wall first for gold, 0.08 seconds ahead of the Konkoly.
In Bronze was Toni Shaw of Great Britain, who finished ahead of Cole in fourth.
Crothers crowned a champion
Rowan Crothers won gold in the Men’s 50m Freestyle S10 with a time of 23.21, to continue Australia’s success in the pool.
The Australian finished sixth in Rio and was looking for a better finish, as he qualified fastest in Wednesday morning’s heats.
It was a fast time, 0.05 off the World and Paralympic Record set by Brazil’s André Brasil, but quick enough to dethrone Maksym Krypak of Ukraine who was the Rio gold medallist and a very successful Paralympian.
Also in the final was fellow Australian Thomas Gallagher, who finished fifth with a time of 24.16.
More Gold pops up with Popham
Ben Popham secured Australia’s sixth gold medal overall, and fourth in the pool, with a fast finish in the Men’s 100m Freestyle S8.
The 20-year-old, diagnosed with cerebral palsy as an infant, has been on the Dolphins team for three years after making his international debut in 2018.
After dominating his qualifying heat this morning, with a time of 58.95, he didn’t get off to the best start in the final on Wednesday evening and turned in fifth.
Popham came home strong to pip Andrei Nikolaev of RPC for the gold medal by 0.32 seconds. More than a second behind them was Dimosthenis Michalentzakis of Greece who took Bronze.
Ben James Hance won Bronze in the Men’s 100m Butterfly S14, while Australia claimed Silver and Bronze in the Women’s 100m Butterfly S14 final with Paige Leonhardt and Ruby Storm.
Three times a charm
Ihar Boki of Belarus won his third consecutive Paralympic gold medal in the Men’s 100m Butterfly S13.
One of the most decorated Para Swimmers in the world, Boki continued his run of gold in his first event at the Tokyo Games with a Paralympic Record.
The time of 53.80 was 0.05 faster than his Rio 2016 Paralympic Record and just 0.08 off his World Record set earlier this year in Portugal.
He absolutely dominated the second split of this final, powering home more than a body length ahead of the silver medallist Oleksii Virchenko of Ukraine and bronze medallist Islam Aslanov.
In the Men’s 200m Freestyle S5, World Record holder Francesco Bocciardo of Italy swam a Paralympic Record of 2:26.76 to take gold. Antoni Ponce Bertran of Spain claimed Silver, while Daniel de Faria Dias of Brazil finished in Bronze.
RPC’s Roman Zhdanov set a new World Record with a time of 46.49 in the Men’s 50m Breaststroke SB3. This was 1.0 seconds faster than the previous record held by Efrem Morelli of Italy, who finished fourth in this race. Taking Silver was Miguel Luque of Spain, in Bronze Japan’s Takayuki Suzuki, while Australia’s Ahmed Kelly finished seventh.
Day 2 action gets underway in Tokyo at 10:00 am (AEST), with the Gliders, Rollers and Steelers all in action as well Australian Athletes in the Cycling, Swimming, Table Tennis and much more.
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